After the disgusting mess that was Bohemian Rhapsody last year that continued to anger me for months due to its horrendous and undeserving awards push I had nothing for Rocketman at first. I was so over the concept of musical biography especially about an LGBTQ+ artist but as more and more came out regarding this movie and trailers started to be released I slowly became more and more excited for this movie as it seemed to be actually respectful to the story it was telling and not some big jerk off to make assholes feel good about themselves by exploiting their dead friend while using popular music to hide a weak and problematic story directed by a literal child rapist. Putting Bohemian Rhapsody aside (seriously fuck that movie) I hoped Rocketman would be better and not possibly lead to another painful awards season but luckily this movie really delivered for me. Sure it won't be on my best of the year list but I can't help but say I had a great time with this movie overall and especially if you are a fan of Elton John this is a great celebration of his career and music.
And right away one of the biggest standout elements of this film for me would be the musical numbers themselves. Of course, this is going to feature the classic Elton John songs that so many know and love and where the songs themselves are fantastic its how they use them that really separates this movie from most other films of this type. They don't just feature his music as iconic moments from his career but as tools for storytelling. There is a true poeticness with how they are able to use his songs to perfectly capture and explore a time in his life which is especially impressive considering he didn't write his own music. The actual musical scenes are also extremely creative and go way beyond what the average musical biography would give you. These scenes really feel like pieces of art with how well crafted they are and easily are the best parts of this movie in my opinion. The costume design is also really impressive and well done by Julian Day. He was the same guy who did the costumes in Bohemian Rhapsody and they easily were one of the stronger elements in that film so it really is no surprise that he shines here. He has to create so many over the top outfits that stand out as exotic and crazy while also not being distracting or a wall stopping viewers from taking the film seriously and he really hits it out of the park.
Taron Egerton is also really impressive here turning in easily the best performance of his career. The power he is able to bring to this role as it deep dives into the struggles and darker sides of Elton John. He is able to be a fury of anger and charisma while also maintaining the artist within him. He never came off as so far gone that we couldn't root for him as a person but it's not afraid to show just how shitty he could be. Elton is very much portrayed as a victim who is lashing out in pain and the film does an amazing job balancing the blame of his actions. Egerton's voice is also just incredible and is strong enough to where it never felt off-putting or distracting in the musical segments. It is always a worry with such iconic songs like the ones featured in this film that when you have the actor sing it won't be able to live up to the original enough to where it won't feel out of place and do more harm than good as the music is such a big part of the draw of the film. Where Egerton is not quite on Elton John level he still is extremely good and I think nearly everyone will be happy with what he gets out. I also think Kit Connor deserves praise for his role as a young Elton John. He isn't in the movie for the longest amount of time but he was really solid and left an impact that I still felt after the film was over.
As far as negatives go there are a few things, some of the story elements of this film can feel a bit stale. It is hard to judge as it is based on a true story but especially if you have seen a lot from this genre there will be some story elements that lack their intended impact. The movie also just goes too long, it is only about 2 hours long so it really isn't that long but especially around 3/4ths into the runtime I found myself getting antsy and bored outside of the music scenes. You know where this story is going so for them to prolonge it feels like a misstep when they could have used that time to explore some of the more interesting aspects of this film even further than they do. The film also can feel a bit uneven throughout, as they jump around from different periods in his life with musical notes mixed in it can feel a bit disjointed and messy but none of these things are that big of an issue and you at least have those solid musical scenes throughout. Overall like I said Rocketman is not going to be in my top 10 of the year here in 6 months but I wouldn't be shocked if certain elements were able to stick around long enough to make it to the Buttered Popcorn Movie Awards next year. This is an above average musical biography that does the Elton John story justice. If you are a fan of Elton John this is almost required viewing and even if not I think there is enough here for the general audience to enjoy and connect with.